The Stone Roses Argument: Is A New Album Essential To Their 2016 Return?

The Stone Roses have a biog year ahead. Two hometown shows at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium and a headline slot at T In The Park. There’s also the small matter of new music being released, now that the band are back in the studio. But do they need to make a new album? Two NME writers duke it out…

Yes, says Mark Beaumont, writer

They’re an easily excited bunch, Stone Roses fans. Wave a few old bits of lemon artwork under their nose and splash headlines basically saying ‘MASSIVE BAND PLAY SAME GIGS AS LAST TIME’ and they go beanie-hat bonkers. Sure, depending how pissed you got and how loudly you sang along, the reunion shows of 2012 and ’13 were celebratory honk-fests, but now every next-gen fan has had the chance to see them (and hear first-hand why Ian Brown is rarely invited to help philharmonic orchestras tune to his perfect pitch), it’s tough to summon the same sort of enthusiasm. Their pile of heaven-quaking classics is limited – one truly great album, a handful of decent tunes otherwise – so this will basically be exactly the same sets again, perhaps in a different order. Excuse me if I don’t instantly empty my bank account on to the secondary ticketing sites…

Unless. Come on lads, Blur, Pixies, even Dodgy have put together a new album for their reunions. Suede too. Pulp, with nothing new to add, have called it a day again for the moment. Without fresh material to move the story forward and prove their continuing cultural clout, they’re little more than another nostalgia circuit cheap fix. And let’s face it, it’s been so long since ‘The Second Coming’ that people are actually starting to get misty-eyed over that turgid lump of sub-Zep bollocks, so album three would be an open goal. Step up, Roses, it’s time to prove the faithful right. Otherwise this might be just another bloodless resurrection.

No, says Ben Homewood, Reviews Editor

Why shouldn’t the fans be excited? A massively important British band is coming back to play three – more if you believe the Glastonbury rumours – massive gigs this summer. There’ll be beer everywhere and thousands of grinning (quite possibly gurning) people will be bawling along with Ian Brown. The sun might even come out. Imagine how good ‘She Bangs The Drums’ sounds with sun on your back.

It’ll be even better for those who’ve never seen the band before. I’m in that camp and, having missed out in 2012 and 2013, am well up for going. Mad for it, even. That’s why reunions and live shows like this are still worth it. To some, The Stone Roses can no longer live on one-and-a-half good albums and should either make another one or pack it in. But to others they’re an unknown quantity, still to be discovered. And if the gigs are packed with first-timers, all the better.

The other issue with a third Stone Roses record is simple: what if it’s rubbish? Playing a few big gigs is easy, and the payoff is obvious. Cramming into a studio to renew damaged relationships (remember what Ian Brown said when drummer Reni left the stage in Amsterdam in 2012: “What can I say? The drummer’s a cunt”) and attempting to get that old alchemy back is something else entirely. Not even the most optimistic fans could be sure they’d make another album even half as good as ‘The Stone Roses’ was. But that’s fine: every song on it will sound mind-blowing when they play them next summer.